Jesus did many amazing things during his time on earth. One way he helped people was by meeting their physical needs, but he sometimes did it in a supernatural way. He turned two fish and five loaves of bread into a meal that fed well over 5,000 people! This miracle is a great reminder that Jesus is God’s Son, and he gives us what we need. With a few easy activities and a Sunday School format, you can teach the importance of this Bible story to the children in your ministry.
To start a Sunday School lesson about Jesus feeding the 5,000, do something to hook the kids. They need to be reeled in so they can listen and get the message of God’s Word. Begin with a couple of ice breaker questions that will pique their interest, and everyone can answer. Ask, “Do you ever get hungry when you’re away from home?” and “What is your favorite place to stop and get a bite to eat when you’re not home?” Give kids a chance to respond and get them thinking about being hungry and what they like to eat. Follow it up by explaining that in Jesus’ time, people were hungry too, but it wasn’t easy for them to just stop by a fast-food restaurant and pick up a burger and fries.
Another opening activity to use is a game entitled “Feed Me.” Partner up kids and give each group a cup of popcorn. Have them stand about six feet away from each other and take turns tossing popcorn to one another. They should attempt to catch each piece of popcorn in their mouth. Remind them not to eat any popcorn that lands on the floor. The five-second rule doesn’t apply to this activity!
After you’ve hooked them, you’ve got to book them. That means, use the Bible, God’s Word, to tell the true story of what happened with this amazing miracle. The very cool part about this account is that it’s listed in all four gospels. This is an excellent opportunity to explain that books of the Bible have different authors (all inspired by God), but each writer has his own style and adds other details.
Show kids the Biblical references in the following places: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-15. Pick one account to read aloud and focus on for your Bible storytime. As you read the verses, or call on volunteers to do so, explain them. Retell the story simply, so they understand and do it excitingly. After all, Jesus treating thousands of people to dinner with a couple of plates full of food is pretty exciting stuff!
The recap could go something like this. When Jesus was on earth, he did some fantastic things. He did all kinds of miracles. One super cool one was when he took a little bit of food and made it stretch for an entire crowd of people. Jesus had been teaching and healing. He went to get away with his disciples for a while, but the crowds kept following him. It was getting to be late and time for supper. The disciples thought Jesus should send everyone home, but Jesus had other plans. He knew the people were hungry; they had that physical need, and he wanted to meet it. No food was found in the entire crowd except two small fish and five loaves of bread. Jesus told the people to sit down in groups. He thanked God for the food, began to break it up and pass it out. The people ate as much as they wanted, and there were still leftovers…12 baskets full, to be exact! The Bible says there were 5,000 people counted, and that was just the men. There were also women and children who ate. That’s more people than are in some small towns! How in the world was this possible? It’s only because Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus has God’s power and was able to feed the people and miraculously meet their needs.
Jesus meets our needs, too. Think about some things that you want. Maybe you’d like a new toy, or you hope to have a big birthday party at the pool. Those are fun things that you would like to have, but they aren’t things you actually need. Think about things that you need. These are things that are necessary to live, like food, water, and shelter. We may not always get what we want in life, but we can be assured that God will provide our basic needs when we trust in Him.
After they’re hooked, and booked, next comes the look. Look deeper into the application of what this Bible story means for kids. To make sure they are tracking, ask a couple of questions after you get through the story. What did the disciples think the people should do when they were hungry? What did Jesus use to feed the people? How much was leftover? What are some ways that Jesus gives you what you need?
Play a fun game as a reminder of what happened in this miracle of Jesus. You’ll need a basket and seven bean bags. Have kids imagine that the bean bags are fish and bread. Line kids up several feet away from the basket and give them seven chances to toss the ‘leftovers’ into the basket. Remind kids that Jesus met the crowd’s needs by feeding them all that they could eat, and Jesus meets our needs by giving us what is necessary.
Put pen to paper and do a craft to help the meaning of Jesus’ miracle sink deeper into their minds. For this simple activity, you’ll just need paper and crayons or other writing utensils. Fold the paper into fourths so there are four equivalent boxes creased. Draw lines to more clearly show these four spaces. Challenge kids to come up with four ways that God gives us what we need. They can use words and/or drawings to show this. Talk about some ways to get their ideas flowing. Food and water are basic needs as well as shelter. Those are physical needs just like Jesus met in this particular miracle. Other needs are emotional and spiritual. God gives us love, hope, peace, and salvation.
End your time with a prayer and a challenge. Encourage kids to thank God multiple times during the upcoming week as they recognize their needs being met.
During your Sunday School hour, you can help kids remember that Jesus meets our needs. The story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is the perfect example to do so. They can see that Jesus cares about all of our needs. Hook them by piquing their interest in this amazing miracle. Go straight to the Book for the true story of Jesus power, and take a look at how you can apply it to their lives.